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Is Your Pet Itchy?

March 1, 2024

Do you often find your furry friend scratching against things? Does your dog or cat beg for you to scratch them and then act like they’re in bliss when you do? The occasional itchy spot is quite normal, but persistent itching can be a sign of trouble. Here’s what a Lake Echo, NS vet has to say about the matter:

What Can I Do To Stop My Pet From Scratching?

Numerous treatment options are available to help itchy pets. These include medication, antihistamines, steroids, antibiotics, and medicated shampoos. Additional suggestions from your veterinarian may include things like an oatmeal bath or specific oils, like coconut or olive oil. 

However, it is crucial to choose the appropriate method. Therefore, we always recommend that you schedule an appointment with your Lake Echo, NS veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Using the wrong thing could do more harm than good.

When Should I Be Concerned About My Pet’s Itching?

Fluffy and Fido can’t tell you when they need to see a vet, so it’s important to watch for signs that something is wrong. In many cases, persistent itching is the biggest clue, but there are other signs to consider as well. 

Here are some of the main ones:

  • Obsessively licking or biting an area
  • Scratching/Chewing themselves
  • Fur loss
  • Flea dirt
  • Licking the paws
  • Red skin
  • Lesions
  • Discharge or dark/discolored wax from the ears
  • Shaking/Pawing at the head, face, or ears,
  • Discolored Skin
  • Flaking
  • Scabbing
  • Swelling
  • Pustules, pimples, lesions, or abscesses

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your Lake Echo, NS veterinarian right away.

Why Do Pets Itch?

There are many reasons why pets get itchy. Sometimes, the problem is easy to identify. For instance, if you see flea dirt—or worse, actual moving fleas—in your pet’s fur, you can probably guess what the issue is. Occasionally, however, the problem can be more challenging to pinpoint.

The following are the most common causes of itching in pets:

Parasites: Fleas are, of course, the main culprits here, although ticks are sometimes involved. Despite the fact that tick bites do not normally itch, some pets may react to the saliva they release. Fleas and ticks carry dangerous diseases, as well as other parasites, so make sure you take preventative measures!

Fleas and ticks aren’t the only parasites to be concerned with. Mites can also cause itching. Sarcoptic mites are responsible for mange as well as scabies. (Unfortunately, humans can also contract them.) There are also ear mites, which take up residence in pets’ ears, causing severe itching. (You may notice your pet shaking their head a lot if this is the issue.) Then there are Demodex mites, which burrow under the skin.

Stress/Anxiety: As with humans, pets can also experience stress and anxiety. Big changes are major stressors for pets, such as boredom, loneliness, discomfort, and friction with other pets. Our furry friends sometimes cope with their distress by overgrooming themselves. As a result, pets can lose their hair, which can lead to skin infections.

If your veterinarian gives your pet the all-clear as far as medical reasons, stress could be very well the culprit. Often, toys and playtime are the top recommendations. Small comforts, such as beds and cat boxes, can also help. Medication and behavior modification may also be beneficial. Of course, you’ll need to pay a lot of attention to your fuzzy pal, and make sure they feel safe and loved.

Allergies: Pets’ allergies can cause itchiness, red, runny eyes, sneezing, snoring, skin irritation, and upset stomachs. Some pets even develop seizures from allergies.

Allergies in pets fall into a number of categories.

Food Allergies, as the name suggests, are caused when pets eat something that doesn’t agree with them. When a pet’s body decides that a particular food – typically a protein, such as chicken or beef – is an invader, it launches an immune response against it. The result? Food allergies.

Often, narrowing down the exact allergen is the hardest part. If you suspect your pet has food allergies, you may need to put him or her on a very bland diet until symptoms improve. Next, you’ll be able to reintroduce ingredients one at a time to see which triggers a reaction. This should only be done under the supervision of your veterinarian. 

Seasonal Allergies usually include grass, pollen, certain plants, leaves, mold, and dust mites. 

Contact Dermatitis Contact dermatitis can occur as a result of direct contact with a substance or material. It is characterized by redness, inflammation, and flaky skin. You may also see fur loss, skin discoloration, and small pimples or pustules on your pet. 

The following are some of the things that can cause contact dermatitis:

  • Plants
  • Plastics
  • Medicines
  • Chemicals
  • Fertilizers for lawns and gardens
  • Detergents
  • Soaps
  • Rugs
  • Textiles
  • Mulch
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner

If the issue persists, there’s a chance of infection, plus your pet will be miserable until they get relief. It is extremely uncomfortable for your furry friend. Although some home remedies, such as oatmeal baths, may help, we recommend contacting your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Fungal Infections: Infections caused by fungal growth can take many forms, none of which are pleasant. Dogs that have skin folds and/or floppy ears, like Shih Tzus and Beagles, are prone to yeast infections, which thrive in tiny nooks, crannies, and crevasses. Ringworm, which is actually a fungus, may also cause itching. 

Many of these infections can be treated with topical medications. However, your vet will need to prescribe these. You’ll also need to be diligent about cleaning and treating the area.

Bacterial Infections: One of the most dangerous causes is bacterial infections, which often result from wounds or scratches that tear the skin. Peeling, redness, swelling, and pustules can also occur. These infections usually don’t go away on their own. Treatment options include topical medications, antibiotics, and other treatments.

Dry Skin: Pets’ itching does not always result from a complex medical condition. Sometimes, it’s just dry skin! Simply using the wrong grooming products can cause Fido and Fluffy to feel itchy. 

Dry air often causes dry, itchy skin in people and pets. You may need to get a humidifier. A good diet is also very important. foods that are high in fatty acids can keep your pet’s skin and coat healthy and well-nourished. Ask your Lake Echo, NS veterinarian for suggestions.

Conclusion: Various factors can cause itchy skin in dogs and cats, from parasites to allergies to stress. However, you’ll need to consult your vet to determine what the issue is before you can treat your pet.

Contact our Lake Echo, NS veterinary clinic if your pet seems to be itching a lot lately, or if he needs parasite control or an exam.